Summarized by Kent Larsen
Mormon Video Store Keeps Editing in Spite of Legal Threat
Deseret News 23Dec99 D4
By Sharon Haddock: Deseret News staff writer
AMERICAN FORK, UTAH -- More than a year after Paramount Pictures
threatened to sue LDS-owned Sunrise Video for editing out two scenes
from copies of its blockbuster "Titanic," the suit has never
materialized and Sunrise continues editing customer-owned tapes to
Owner Carol Biesinger still gets two dozen edit requests a week,
nothing like the flood of interest last December when the video of the
R-rated film was first released. At that time Sunrise offered to
excise two scenes that parents often found unacceptable. The publicity
about its offer, in conjunction with the earlier showing of an edited
version of Titanic by an American Fork cinema, led Paramount to
threaten a lawsuit over the editing.
However, unlike the cinema, Sunrise was on firmer legal ground. "We've
heard nothing more from them since the one letter telling us they
thought we were wrong to do what we were doing," Biesinger said. "I
think they've realized we're not breaking any laws. The videos we edit
are not the ones we put out for sale. They are owned by the people who
bring them to us." Editing the video before sale or editing the film
shown in a cinema may be a violation of the copyright law. But the
legal owner of a copy of the video can do whatever they like to it, as
long as they don't edit it for resale.
In addition to "Titanic" the video store is also being asked to edit
copies of "Shakespeare in Love," "Jerry Maguire" and "Air Force One,"
all at $5 per cut. Sunrise had to increase its charges from $5 per
movie because of the labor involved. "We're still pretty much using
methods that are somewhat crude," said Biesinger. "We've looked for
editing equipment, and what we need doesn't really exist. We still
just cut and splice. "And we really can't take something that's
R-rated and make it a PG."
Sunrise says it can't edit to remove offensive language because the
audio on the tape isn't synchronized with the video. Instead, it
recommends that customers buy TV Guardian, a hardware system that
removes offensive language from Television and Video. The store also
sells TV Guardian, which has been heavily marketed to the LDS market
and is available in most LDS bookstores. Sunrise finds that they sell
very well, "I can't keep them in," says Biesinger.